Ministry can be incredibly rewarding. It can also be incredibly draining. No matter how much you do there is always more ministry to be done. There are more people to reach, more people to counsel, and more messages to prepare. Inevitably, you will go through seasons of great joy and great disappointment. You will experience seasons where it seems everyone is for you and other seasons where it feels like people are out to get you. Judas betrayed Jesus. If it happened to Jesus, it will happen to you.
The thing about ministry is it involves people. People are imperfect including you and me. It’s why Jesus spent time ministering to the crowd but also spent time in solitary with His Father. Solitary moments feed our souls. The opposite is isolation. It doesn’t feed our soul. It dries it up. When you go through difficult seasons in ministry the temptation is to isolate. If there is one thing I have learned in ministry, it’s we can’t do life alone! We need to make and keep the right connections in our lives to sustain us for the long haul.
Here are three relational connections which, when given priority, will benefit any pastor:
1. A Back-To-Back Relationship
Every pastor needs someone—preferably a group of pastors—who have your back. Proverbs 27:5-6 says,
Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.
You need someone who truly understands what you are going through. You need others who have your back. You need people in your life who love you enough to tell you the truth and talk to you instead of about you. You need other pastors who have been where you are and have the scars to prove it. You need pastors who are where you want to go and can help you get there.
2. A Shoulder-To-Shoulder Relationship
Secondly, you need people in your life that will honestly say, “WE are in this together.” Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 says,
“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!
Pity the person who has no one to pick him or her up. In ministry, you will need people to help you get up again. The shoulder-to-shoulder relationship is about having people in your life to run alongside in ministry. It’s about having people who will run beside you going after the vision God has placed in your heart. It is where your vision has become their vision, too. Together you can do more then you ever could alone.
3. A Face-To-Face Relationship
Never forget the most important earthly relationship you have on this planet is the relationship with your spouse. We can become so busy doing ministry that we forget one of the most important ministries we have is serving our spouse. Don’t get so busy working alongside each other that you forget to turn toward each other and reconnect. One of the greatest things you can do for your church is have a healthy marriage. Don’t neglect the face-to-face relationship. It’s about intimacy. It’s about knowing and being known. It’s about opening up and having a safe place to be who you really are. Proverbs 18:24 says,
There are “friends” who destroy each other, but a real friend sticks closer than a brother.
Stick together! Don’t let the enemy come in between you and the gift of intimacy that God wants to provide for this sacred relationship called marriage.
The true test of friendship: “A friend loves at ALL times, and a brother is born for adversity” (Proverbs 17:17). You can’t do ministry alone! Surround yourself with these vital relational connections so you are ready to overcome adversity and endure through every season you face in ministry.